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Appetite for Destruction: ‘Hannibal’ Is Back for More

Loved by critics and a wildly rabid fanbase, NBC’s ‘Hannibal’ brings us the next chapter of the infamous villain from the Thomas Harris novels.

Set the dinner table and your DVR! The most exquisite serial-killer-psychiatrist-chef is back on the menu: Hannibal returns tonight for its third juicy season.

Having escaped the shocking bloodbath he left behind in the Season 2 finale – with the fates of three major characters left up in the air – the diabolical doctor is now on the run in Europe.

The Season 3 premiere picks up eight months later and opens like a James Bond film with a leather-clad Hannibal Lecter on a motorcycle blazing through the streets of Paris and stalking his next champagne-swilling victim at a party.

At once sinister and seductive, the spot-on Mads Mikkelsen continues to pull off the impossible: He’s chillingly perfect as the younger Hannibal Lecter, so mesmerizing that the audience never even thinks about the other guy who played the famed character in the movies.

With his former therapist Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier (Gillian Anderson) by his side and posing as his “wife,” Hannibal takes on a new identity and settles in Florence, Italy, working as an academic at a museum. And, of course, feeding his unusual appetites on the side.

But what about Will Graham, you may ask? I’m afraid viewers will not find out the fates of the left-for-dead Will Graham (Hugh Dancy), Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) and Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas) in the first hour, as the entire storyline focuses on Hannibal and Bedelia’s adventures abroad. While the cat-and-mouse game between Lecter and Graham is put on the back burner, we do get more of the cat-and-mouse game between Lecter and Du Maurier. Snippets of (some very gruesome) scenes from the past show how Hannibal and Bedelia’s very complicated relationship came to be, though it’s still not quite clear just whose team she’s truly on.

For now, Hannibal and Bedelia are living large and enjoying the taste of freedom – albeit fraught with chilling tension – but it won’t last long as the manhunt for Hannibal Lecter fuels the third season.

From the looks of the first three episodes that we’ve seen, executive producer Bryan Fuller is in top form, masterfully combining his cinematic use of color schemes, operatic scoring, atmospheric storytelling, fluidity in editing and striking imagery — all remarkable in their ability to make this horror show so hauntingly beautiful.

Five Things to Know About Season 3 of Hannibal:

1. Expect a significant shift in the storytelling structure of the series this season as they drop the procedural format and the murder-of-the-week element in favor of a more character-driven story.

2. We won’t spoil who lives or dies from the season-ending massacre, but given the new format, viewers can assume that whoever does survive from the BAU team, they’re going to get less screen time. “You only see the FBI in one episode in the first seven,” Fuller revealed. That means you, Dr. Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas) and, unfortunately, you too, Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne). You don’t have to be a tortured genius to know that this story isn’t done with troubled profiler Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) yet, so it’s also safe to assume he’ll rise like a Sphinx with a plane ticket to Italy, pronto!

Hannibal NBC Season 3 Photo

Mads Mikkelsen as Dr. Hannibal Lecter and Gillian Anderson as Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier. (Photo: Brooke Palmer/NBC)

3. There will be fresh blood. First and foremost, Gillian Anderson has been promoted to series regular this season. Look for several new faces this season too, including Joe Anderson, who takes over the role of Mason Verger from Michael Pitt. Tao Okamoto (Wolverine) plays Chiyoh, the handmaid to Lady Murasaki (Hannibal’s Japanese aunt), Nina Arianda plays Will Graham’s wife, Molly, and Zachary Quinto (Heroes) plays a patient of Dr. Du Maurier’s.

4. The first half of the season will be set in Italy and will feast on the pursuit of Hannibal. The final six episodes will move into events from Thomas Harris’ “Red Dragon.”

5. And that means a new big bad is on the board: Get ready to meet the “Tooth Fairy.” Richard Armitage (The Hobbit) has joined the cast as Francis Dolarhyde, a serial killer known for biting his victims. And Rutina Wesley (True Blood) will play Reba McClane, a blind woman who becomes involved in a relationship with Dolarhyde. Look for him to take his first bite in episode 8 – and to bring Will Graham and Hannibal Lecter back together in the most ironic of ways.

Season 3 of Hannibal premieres Thursday, June 4, at 10 p.m./ET on NBC.